1 John 5:13–21 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
Pastor Chris delivers a commanding conclusion to this series Knowing Jesus in Trying Times: a Walkthrough the Book of 1 John. He explains that this was the Apostle John’s goodbye message to the believers reading this letter. He shares that often a person’s final words stress what is most important. Addressing the biblical concept of idols, Chris deepens our perspective on modern idolatry.
Idols come in many forms. In ancient times and other cultures an idol might be a religious object representing some deity. Clearly our culture has idols in sports, entertainment, finances, career, beauty, cars, recreation, and many more. Just take a look at a magazine rack in an airport or grocery store to see what grabs people’s attention.
- What is Idolatry?
Chris reminds us that God has created all humans to worship as an act of honor and fulfillment. Idolatry is the worship of someone or something other than God at the center of your life.
“Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” John Calvin
3 “You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3
Idolatry is like a 2-headed monster: 1. Robbery – because in idolatry we take what is due to God and give it to someone or something else, and 2. Perversion – because in idolatry instead of giving our devotion to God we give it to created things. (Pastor Erik Raymond)
- Idols are Deceptive
Idolatry can seem socially acceptable as an interest, a hobby, or a pursuit. However, this can be deceiving, so we must do an inventory of the heart to see if these are replacing God in our life.
How do I find my idols?
- “More than anything, I want ____.”
- “I need ____.”
- “I fear ____.”
- “I’m in love with ____”
- “I’m seeking ____.”
- “I’m trusting ____.”
- “I’m taking refuge in ____.”
You might be trying to fill a void in your heart and mind that only Jesus can complete. Your answers to these questions will reveal what you may have given place in your life instead of God:
10 Diagnostic Questions:
- What do you think about when nothing else demands your attention?
- What thrills you the most?
- What do you talk about the most?
- What gets your time and attention the most?
- Where do you spend most of your money?
- What, if you lost it, would make life feel worthless?
- What, if you gained it, would make life feel complete?
- Who or what do you make sacrifices for?
- Who or what do you love the most?
- Who or what do you fear?
- Idolatry is a Symptom of “Heart Trouble”
“Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.” Augustine of Hippo
”8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8
8O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit. 9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. Hosea 14:8–9
- Idols Will Never Fulfill You
- Idolatry is Gradual and Subtle
- Name and Repent of Your Idols
Repentance means acting on our prayer of forgiveness, asking God to replace the idols we’ve erected in our life. After you’ve taken an assessment of the idols in your life, take action to restore that space in your life (heart, mind, time, attention, and worship) to God.
”25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.” Ezekiel 36:25
- What comes to mind when you think of an idol?
- How might modern idols be different from those in John’s day? How might they be the same?
- When you read through the 10 Diagnostic Questions that Pastor Chris shared, how might most people react? How do you think Christians should react?
- How have you seen the deceptive, gradual, even ‘sneaky’ ways that idols become a focus in our lives?
- Recognize. Write out your responses to the section “How do I find my idols?” and your answers to the “10 Diagnostic Questions.”
- Repent. Seek God’s forgiveness for those idols that you’ve replaced God’s rightful place in your heart and mind. Receive His forgiveness in full, as promised in Romans 6:13-14.
- Replace. Take action to remove the idols from your life as God directs.